1887 Windermere Schoolhouse

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1887 Windermere Schoolhouse

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Opened in 1887, this structure is the only surviving one-room school house in Orange County, and one of the few still standing in Florida. The Frame Vernacular building, capped with a metal roof, was communally constructed using locally milled heartwood from Florida long leaf pine. A well dug near the front door remains. Maude Adams, one of the first full-time teachers, educated generations of settlers and town builders within these walls. Ms. Adams received a salary of $22 per month for the education of 22 pupils. The students ranged from grades K-12 and were the children of citrus grove owners and workers. During the early 20th century, the schoolhouse served as headquarters for the local Board of Trade, a Women’s Club, a Union Church, a polling station, and a meeting hall. The building ceased to be used as a schoolhouse in 1916 when a larger schoolhouse complex was established. In 1918, Lloyd and Minnie Armstrong acquired the schoolhouse and the surrounding property from real estate developer Cal Palmer. The Armstrong family altered the building into a “cracker style” home by attaching two sleeping wings and a broad covered porch.

The schoolhouse became the center of the home and served as the kitchen and dining room. Eight of the Armstrong’s nine children were raised in the building. Many old citrus trees and ornamentals planted by the family are still present. During the 1930s the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration built an outhouse at the back of the property. Minnie and Lloyd’s daughter, Eunice Armstrong-Parramore, acquired the property after the death of her parents. In 1995, Eunice and Manuel “Perry” Parramore deeded it as a historic legacy to the Town of Windermere. The additions were removed and the structure was restored to its original school house form. In 2011, citizens organized to prevent an attempt to move the building, which would have compromised its historic integrity. On January 31, 2012, a town charter amendment was passed overwhelmingly by the voters of Windermere to preserve the 1880s schoolhouse in its original location. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, it remains by a citrus grove, within sight of Lake Butler, canopied by historic trees.

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